Sherman could switch to safety to extend career
On Thursday, the 49ers’ cornerback discussed his plan for the rest of his career, and it included a potential transition from his current position to safety. It’s the same latecareer move made by Woodson, Woodson and Williams, all of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s definitely something that I’ve looked at,” Sherman said. “And something that I’ve talked with (Charles Woodson) about.”
The shift to safety, a position that doesn’t require the same quickness, helped those decorated corners extend their careers: Charles Woodson was 39 in his final season, Rod Woodson was 38 and Williams was 36.
However, Sherman, 30, doesn’t anticipate replicating that aspect of their journeys.
“I think 35 is probably my cutoff,” Sherman said. “I don’t think I want to play … they’d have a hard time getting me out of bed at 35 to go play. I think I’ve got four or five more (years) in me.
“At some point, everybody makes a transition to safety if you’re smart enough to play that game. And I’ll probably do that in a couple of years — or whatever the team needs.”
Cornerbacks typically need to have strong instincts, intelligence and tackling ability to move to safety, all of which Sherman possesses. In the 49ers’ 4-3 defense, however, Sherman might not have the necessary speed to play free safety. And he might not have the size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) to play strong safety, which lines up closer to the line of scrimmage.
Of course, this could be a moot point. Sherman agreed when a reporter suggested 2021 might be a logical season to move to safety. Sherman is in the first season of a threeyear contract that runs through 2020.
The way Sherman explained it, his interest in possibly moving to safety isn’t about compensating for declining skills. Instead, it would be a way to get more involved in the latter part of a potential Hall of Fame career in which quarterbacks have often avoided him for long stretches.
At free safety, “you can see the whole field — you get to make an impact,” Sherman said. “You always see where the ball goes. And at corner, I’ve had games where I haven’t gotten a look or thrown at.
“At safety, you can see exactly where the ball goes. You can make an impact. You can find a way. You can get in on every tackle because you’re in the center of everything, kind of like a (middle linebacker). But it’s something that I’m going to consider later in my career and hopefully, I’ll be just as good there.”
The move certainly isn’t imminent, given Sherman’s debut season with the 49ers, who count Sherman as their only reliable starter at cornerback this season.
The 49ers have indicated they plan to retain Sherman for 2019. And based on Sherman’s comments Thursday about his health, he could be even better next season.
Sherman, who has had procedures on both Achilles in the past 13 months, has played in five straight games since missing two of four games with calf and heel issues tied to one of his surgeries. Sherman hasn’t been listed on the injury report since Oct. 31.
“I’ve been fighting it all season, but probably over the last three, four weeks it’s been (an) astronomical” improvement, Sherman said. “It just felt like my body has finally had enough time to reset and take another step. … It took a while for my body to get back to where it needed to be, but now it is, finally.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman might consider a move to safety later in his career.